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Review of T3: Rise of the Machines 731

The Terminator movie series offers explosions and cyborgs galore, but you knew that already. Guns too, and cool special effects involving R-rated nude people in electrified spheres, but you probably guessed that too. So you've seen the trailer and are wondering whether "T3: Rise of the Machines" is worth seeing. Short answer: eh, whatever, it's big and dumb. For the long answer, keep reading. (No real spoilers.)

Let me first draw your attention to CNN's review. The CNN reviewer tells you this "darker and slicker" sequel is "worth the wait," gives you the long-form plot setup, shows you the sexy look of the "babe-a-licious" babe, and promises you "emotional weight" with "wit" and a "stunning and thought-provoking" climax. What he doesn't mention is that CNN and the movie's producer/distributor are both owned by AOL Time Warner.

It's been ten years since I watched the first Terminator and maybe I'm remembering it better than it was. But it had an emotional depth, a heart that neither of its sequels matched. T3 is slicker, yes, but darker!? It's light fluff. The nightmare of nuclear destruction in the original was rendered without CG effects, but I'll remember the skeleton clutching the chain-link fence long after I've forgotten this week's pixel-perfect explosions. And the "storm is coming" ending of the original was genuinely thought-provoking, with a chilling resolve that just embarrasses this week's Hollywood ending. Claire Danes is no Linda Hamilton.

The effects are what you'd expect from a modern zillion-dollar action movie, but not groundbreaking the way that T2's were at the time.

I found nothing about it witty. I chuckled through the chase scenes -- it's mostly chase scenes -- because they were so over-the-top and the plot holes were so glaring. Apart from that, there was only one funny line. (I assume everyone else is as bored as I am with the "dry cool wit like that" dialogue.)

Best unintentionally funny line: "I've got enough C-4 to blow up ten supercomputers!"

Best unintentionally funny visual: tie between fumble for the car keys, and offscreen killing sprays blood across photo.

Dumbest joke: gratuitous mocking of effeminate guy.

Best absurd effect: missile blows apart the wall in a small office ten feet from our heroes, they avoid injury by diving to floor. Duck and cover!

Best plot hole: Terminatrix's chronic failure to remember that she can run fast.

Heavy on the exposition, light on brains and heart, forgettable. See it if you really jones for big trucks smashing stuff. If you just have to see a movie, see "28 Days Later" instead. Rated R, not recommended for anyone whose mental age matches their valid ID.

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Review of T3: Rise of the Machines

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  • Skeletons (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zog The Undeniable ( 632031 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:03AM (#6366834)
    Wasn't the skeleton hugging the chainlink fence in T2?
  • Seen it (Score:4, Informative)

    by Boo Robin ( 657702 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:05AM (#6366842) Homepage Journal
    I saw it the first day it came out. It was pretty good, but the ending was a bit lacking. It leaves it real open. :D

    I must say, some parts with the robots looked a tad too unrealistic. It just looked to fake. But then again, that was only one scene.

    It is a good movie to see if you want a little action in your life or love Arnold.

  • by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <slashdot AT stango DOT org> on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:10AM (#6366891) Homepage Journal
    Where the hell is Edward Furlong anyway? I bet he needs the work.

    According to IMDB's T3 trivia page, [] they wanted Furlong to reprise the John Connor role, but he was too drug-addled to do it.

    I haven't seen him in anything good in years, so he probably wanted to do it (especially since it's the role that made him famous) but they probably didn't want to gamble on him going off on a bender in the middle of production.

  • by SpaceRook ( 630389 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:10AM (#6366892)
    Before I saw this movie, I really did NOT like the idea of a female Terminator. It always pisses me off when filmmakers try to mix sexiness with sci-fi or horror (probably because I'm so conditioned to having the sex appeal subtract from the main story).

    But the Terminatrix was actually cool. She often has this weird half-smile on her face, and her head is tilted down with determination. She reminded me of Haley Joel Osment from AI in some ways.

    There are, of course, some frustrating sequences in the movie. The Terminatrix has about 1,000,000 opportunities to flat out kill John Connor and Kate Brewster, but never seems to take them. Like the Robert Patrick character, she can impersonate other people. She impersonates Kate's fiancee in one sequence, and has a 100% clear chance of killing her before changing to her "regular" form at the last minute and blowing her cover.

    Overall, the movie was pretty good. The ending was much more bold than I was expecting, and it sets up T4 nicely (there are some big unanswered questions that the good Terminator poses that just beg to be answered in a sequel). Here's hoping that if there is a T4, it consists completely of the post-apocalyptic sequences.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:13AM (#6366914)
    "T2 we see the Terminator and the T-1000 completely melt away. "

    I'm pretty sure that in T2 they take care to destroy the hand left-over from T1. However, during the factory battle in T2, Arnold's Terminator loses another hand, which remains forgotten, undestroyed.
  • It was T2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:15AM (#6366927) Journal
    It comes with a scene where Sarah Conner is watching kids in a park, then starts yelling at everyone about impending doom, etc. A nuclear shockwave hits, park goes byebye and Sarah is reduced to a skeleton clinging to the fence.

    Then she wakes up... and decides to go assassinate a poor defenceless geek who just happens to be involved in the future creation of skynet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:16AM (#6366930)
    Torrent* []

    * - My download of this is 5 hours from completion, so I cannot yet vouch for the quality, but here it is.
  • by gmrc.2 ( 674908 ) <gmrc416@hot[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:28AM (#6367001)
    You got it backwards bro .... Up and Atom is the line the director *needs* from Radioactive Man ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:36AM (#6367045)
    Wasn't that same scene in a Simpsons epidose? (Episode 2F17)

    Movie Producer: Up and atom!
    Renier Wolfcastle: Up and at them!
    Movie Producer: Up and atom!
    Renier Wolfcastle: Up and at them!
    Movie Producer: Up and atom!
    Renier Wolfcastle: Up and at them!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:42AM (#6367073)
    I spent the whole movie trying to reconcile John Connor's perceived age with how old he is supposed to be, based on facts gleaned from the movies.

    T1: Takes place in 1984.

    T2: "Ten years ago, the Machines who rule the future sent an unstoppable Terminator to assassinate the yet unborn John Connor. They failed." [trailer]

    Okay, so T2 is supposed to take place in 1994. We see on the police car computer that John Connor was born in 1985. That makes him 9 years old in T2, but he was played by a 13-14 year-old.

    T3: Numerous references to things that happened at the time of T2 "ten years ago." So this movie takes place in 2004, which makes John Connor 19, but he's played by a 23-24 year-old. So at least they are somewhat consistent in their inconsistency.

    But this chick Kate is right around the same age as John. So we're supposed to believe that at age 20 or so, this girl has had the time to complete college and veterinary school, and find herself a fiancee, and learn to fly a plane? Riiiiiight. She is clearly living the life of someone who is 24 or 25. I think at one point we even see a photo of her from her college graduation.

    This age discrepancy thing has stuck in my craw since I saw T2.
  • by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <slashdot AT stango DOT org> on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:26AM (#6367318) Homepage Journal
    There are at least two series of books that pick up where T2 left off (I guess nobody thought there would be a T3). Both are very good, IMHO, and answer quite a few questions that may have been gnawing at Terminator fans of the "alt.nerd.obsessive" type since they saw the first movie. If you're hungry for backstory, continuation of the Terminator saga, and/or an account of what really happened on August 29, 1997, you ought to give both of these series a read.

    The New John Connor Chronicles [] series, by Russell Blackford.
    I've read only the first book of this series, but a second one is already out and a third is due in a month.

    T2 [] series, by S.M. Stirling.
    I've read the first two of this series, and the third is on its way to me now.

    James Cameron has no connection with these books other than getting credit (and presumably, some sort of royalties) for originally creating the main characters and the world they inhabit. Having said that, though, the books do achieve a Cameronesque level of story detail, and they do dovetail perfectly with the films-- I don't recall coming across any discrepancies that made me stop reading and say, "Huh?"

  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:58AM (#6367495) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, I really don't see what the problem was with a female in the role. People to don't seem to realize the prime requisite for an evil terminator is a strait face. That's it. You can be asian, black, white, male or female... So long as you have a strait face, it's all good. You don't even have to act. In fact, I highly suspect that's an impediment. How many lines did arnold have as an evil ternimator? The guy in T2? Just have them walk around with a purpose and a serious face. Don't give em more than 10 lines and you're set. It's really a gimmie role, one the woman does admirably.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:00PM (#6367501)
    "T4: Rise of The Tax Collectors," at least in Canada. It has potential to be far more terrifying than nuclear armageddon, which no one believes will happen any more.

    (The T4 is the form you get once a year from your employer, if you're lucky enough to have one, which delineates how much of your negligible paycheque was confiscated by the federal government.)
  • by pi42 ( 190576 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:09PM (#6367568) Homepage
    Amen. Everybody stop hating all over T3!

    I went into it expecting a big, dumb action festival.

    I got it, and a bit more. Even the one liners didn't bother me.

    "We require a new vehicle."
    "You're terminated!"

    I liked the movie. I liked Arnold. I liked the CG effects, more so than those in the Matrix Reloaded, or even LotR. The truck chase ruled. Funny Terminator-doesn't-get-it-jokes were good. There were lots of bullets and explosions.

    Did anyone else get a big kick out of how at the end, the T-X crashes into the bunker with a helicopter, and then Arnold comes in in a BIGGER helicopter?! Genius. Absolutely genius.

    I think that movies, first and foremost, are entertainment. They can be artful, thought-provoking, or profound. But just because they aren't doesn't mean you can't just sit back, flip your brain into standby, and enjoy it!
  • by e_pluribus_funk ( 648835 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:18PM (#6367624)
    Whoever told you that there were 500 megaton nukes 'pointed at the most critical targets' either was a dumbass or lied through their teeth. The largest deployed nukes were single warhead 25 megaton nukes on Soviet SS-18 missiles (the SS-18 also came in a 10 warhead, 550 kiloton per warhead, version). Optimal detonation height for blast damage varies depending on the yield of the weapon, but generally speaking, we're talking about 2000 feet. When you are looking at it from above (like in T3) it could very well look like it 'exploded' on the ground. What they captured well, and what I hadn't seen in a movie before (but have seen in actual test footage) was the blast wave's compression of water vapor into clouds.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:21PM (#6367648) Homepage Journal
    I found myself thinking that if these two idiots are the best hope for mankind, I might be better off if I get caught in a blastwave on "Judgement Day".

    The timelines don't match up. Kyle Reese was sent back to fight the T-800 in 1984. That was when he impregnated Sarah with John. So, John would have been born in 1985. John says that he was 13 when the second T-800 was sent back to protect him, that would have placed the events of T2 AFTER judgement day was originally supposed to happen(August 29, 1997).

    Sarah being dead was a disappointment. But I like the fact that she was such a forward thinker, she made provisions, just in case it wasn't really over.

    There is a repeated theme from T2, that is when they have eluded the new and improved terminator, they make the point of going into the Lion's Den, so to speak and try to save Kate's father.

    How do Kate and John just waltz into a top secret military research facility? No ID? No search to see if they're armed? "Sure ma'am just bring in that AK-47 and those C4 charges. It's cool."

    When the T-X is about to incinerate them at Crystal Peak, John actually takes the time to stop and thank the T-800. WHAT?!?!?!?! It's a F***ING MACHINE! It doesn't care about your gratitude.

    They dashed to pieces John's belief that there was No Fate. Obviously according to this movie, there is fate. We can't stop or change it, we can only delay it.

    Also, Skynet is no longer a single computer, but Skynet is software distributed over the widest of wide area networks. I guess I can understand that the internet was designed to operate in the event of a nuclear war, but when the power plants go out, so do all of the computers that make up Skynet.

    If Skynet is no longer a central machine, how then can John and Kyle Reese "smash" its defense grid and defeat in 20 or so years?

    I also thought that it was stupid that Kate starts to fall for John the SAME F'ING DAY that her fiance gets murdered by the T-X. Maybe a brief period of mourning would have been in order.

    John is also a pill popping boozer. I'm not sure how that plays into his future role as "leader" of humanity.

    But there were many points that I did like. For example, they showed what was obviously the first gen Terminator, the T1. They showed prototypes for the HK. They show exactly HOW it was that John came to be thought of as a leader.

    Not perfect, not as good as the other two, especially when taking them all as a trilogy, but still worth plunking down $8.00 to see. I enjoyed it, more for the background on the Terminator universe than for its own merits, but I still enjoyed it.

  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:51PM (#6367841) Journal
    Problem: it's a time causality loop. You cannot stop it! Why? Because if you do stop the war, you stop the Terminators, and you then never get them sent into the past. Without them in the past, you cannot have Skynet. Get it?!!?!

    Keep it. :-) There is no time travel, hence there are no real laws of time travel to nitpick.

    Read Poul Anderson's Time Patrol stories. He has a system where you can leave the timeline, someone else can make a change in it beofre you were born, erase the timeline that created you, but you still exist as long as you were not IN the timelne after the change ocurred and propagated.

    This is my main nitpick with people who nitpick time travel stories. THERE ARE NO RULES! In T2, they physically sent a terminator back in time. Once he's there, he exists. He is the physical manifestation of a potential future- the end result of an incredibly complex set of wave functions. Even if his actions skew the probabilities toward a future that does not include him, he exists NOW. The forces and functions that led to his existence in the present have already done their work.

    It's a sort of metatime. You chage a timeline from state A to state B. We now live in state B, but state A did exist at one time, perhaps along some other temporal dimension. From this view of time having more than a single dimension, the effects of state A can linger in state B.

  • fun fact: (Score:3, Informative)

    by zephc ( 225327 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:43PM (#6368158)
    "Her identical twin sister 'Leslie Hamilton Gearran' was Linda's double in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)." (from IMDb)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @04:07PM (#6368824)
    I don't know if you even WATCHED the original movie, but it was explained by jon's father that the power required to send the machines back was *extreme*. Sending people/machines back through time simply wasn't easy enough to send "the entire military." the machines didn't have the resources to do this. Additionally, the first movie (or maybe the second) explains that the first terminator was sent back as the machines were *already losing* the war, the humans captured the time transporter, sent jon's father, then BLEW IT UP. It was therefore not possible (in that timeline ) to send other terminators. given this information, there are *many* reasons why only one terminator was sent. Think before you call someone a dink...

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley